July 2022 Book Discussion

Please join the Tuesday Evening Book Group at 7 pm on July 26 to discuss Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey, an intriguing blend of mystery and fantasy. My earlier review is here. We plan to meet outside on the plaza between the library and the village hall, weather permitting, or in the 2nd floor Meeting Room if needed. We will provide chairs, lanterns, and refreshments. 

Copies of the book are available for checkout at the Circulation Desk. Visit Libby/Media on Demand, Hoopla Digital, or eRead Illinois for e-book and downloadable audiobook copies. Please register online or at the Computer Help Desk.

Hope to see you on the plaza!

Brenda

A Pair of Mystery Story Collections

I recently had the good fortune to read two new collections of mystery short stories. This is my idea of perfect armchair or bedtime summer reading, as the stories are focused on character and setting, but not so much on a detailed plot.

Bruno’s Challenge and Other Stories of the French Countryside by Martin Walker

If you’d like to read about Bruno, Chief of Police visiting the weekly market in St. Denis France, and then cooking or enjoying the local food and drink with a collection of villagers, then look no further. Berries from a local French or farmer’s market make an excellent accompaniment to the stories. Occasional trips around the southwest region of France, horseback riding, and a cave in Lascaux add to the ambience. The mysteries are slight and easily solved by Bruno and company. The other 14 books begin with Bruno, Chief of Police. Some of these get rather dark in tone, though the writing and setting are always top notch.

The Lady With the Gun Asks the Questions by Kerry Greenwood

If you’d rather visit Melbourne, Australia in 1928 or 1929, the delightful Miss Phryne Fisher will be your guide. Elegant, witty, and streetwise, Phryne is delightful and extremely well-dressed company, who occasionally takes justice into her own hands. Raised poor and currently rich and generous, Phryne shines in a wide variety of settings and mysteries. Sometimes the mystery is simply to discover if there’s actually been a crime, or just an accident. Another story features an eloping couple and no crime at all. Four of these stories are brand new; some older stories have been recently revised. Phryne is popular for the television series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and has delighted mystery readers in 21 other books, beginning with Cocaine Blues and (so far) ending with Death in Daylesford.

Brenda

The Marlow Murder Club

marlow murder club jacket

The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood

At 77, Judith Potts is perfectly happy with her solitary life. She lives in a cluttered mansion along the Thames in Marlow, creates crossword puzzles, has a nightly scotch, walks through her neighborhood in a cape, where she thinks her age makes her invisible, and enjoys swimming nude in the Thames. While swimming one evening, she hears a gunshot in her neighbor Stefan’s garden. The police find nothing, not even the body she discovers the next morning, complete with a medallion inscribed Faith. Soon, Judith connects with two other Marlow residents, vicar’s wife Betts and dog walker Suzie, to investigate. After another murder with a different medallion, the trio look into whether the victims are linked by a fondness for rowing or a valuable modern painting sold cheaply many years ago. Their favorite suspect, smug auction house owner Elliot Howard, unfortunately has a solid alibi. The women become friends, though not sharing all their secrets with each other, or with DS Tanika Malik, heading the investigation due to budget cuts. I look forward to a return appearance with The Marlow Murder Club. Readalikes include The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz, Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton, Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie, and The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman.

 

Brenda

The Littlest Library

littlest library jacket

The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander

What Anglophile hasn’t dreamed of buying a cottage in a charming English village? Made redundant when her public library closes, Jess impulsively buys Ivy Cottage in a small Devon town, and opens a little library in a red phone booth with 10 boxes of books left to her by her beloved grandmother Mimi. Soon she’ll need a paying job, but for now she’s weeding the lush garden, making friends, and falling for handsome neighbor Aidan and his tween daughter Maisie. Charming and well-written; perfect summer reading. Readalikes includes novels by Jill Mansell, Jenny Colgan, Jojo Moyes, and Katie Fforde

Brenda

A New Look at Agatha Christie

Recent Books and Films inspired by the Queen of Crime

Mysteries

 Benedict, Marie. The Mystery of Mrs. Christiemystery of mrs. christie jacket

Buzzelli, Elizabeth Kane. And Then They Were Doomed

Cambridge, Colleen. Murder at Mallowan Hall

Christie. Agatha. The Last Séance: Tales of the Supernatural

De Gramont, Nina. The Christie Affair

Hannah, Sophie. The Killings at Kingfisher Hill, The Mystery of Three Quarters

Rader-Day, Lori. Death at Greenway

Wilson, Andrew. Death in a Desert Land, I Saw Him Die

Non-Fiction

Thompson, Laura. Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life

Valentine, Carla. The Science of Murder: The Forensics of Agatha Christie

TV & Films

Crooked House

Death on the Nile

Inside the Mind of Agatha Christie & Agatha Christie’s England

Murder on the Orient Express

Triple Feature: Three Tales of Murder & Mystery

Coming Soonmarple jacket

Marple: Twelve New Mysteries 9/22

Cambridge, Colleen. A Trace of Poison 10/22

2020 saw the celebration of 100 years since the publication of A Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie’s debut novel. There continue to be new editions of her mysteries, as well as books and films inspired by the author and her characters. Enjoy!

Brenda

Fencing with the King

fencing with the king jacket

Fencing with the King by Diana Abu-Jaber

In 1995, King Hussein of Jordan is about to turn 60. Gabe Hamdan is invited to his homeland for the festivities, including participating in a fencing match with the king. Gabe’s daughter Amani, a recently divorced poet in upstate New York, offers to accompany her father. Scraps of poetry written by her grandmother make Amani curious to learn her family’s history, and eager to finally visit Jordan. One of Gabe’s brothers, Hafez, works with the king and is delighted to host his relatives, but with the ulterior motive of reclaiming an ancient family dagger.

There is some intrigue, complex family dynamics, and even a potential love interest for Amani. The real highlight of the novel for me was the beautifully described scenery and historical sites of Jordan, including a Bedouin camp. Amani overcomes her writer’s block, uncovers family secrets, and even ventures alone into the desert in this compelling and atmospheric story. The author’s father is Jordanian and fenced with the king in their youth.

Brenda